As the owners of a lovable but deeply disturbed Labrador retriever whosebrain capacity hovers somewhere below that of an inchworm, my wife and I findconsolation in the classified ads.
Our dog, Marley, has admirable intentions but he suffers that unfortunatecombination of genetics that plagues so many large canines: too much brawn,too little brain.
My wife calls him "desperately happy."If he were a child, the doctor surelywould have prescribed Ritalin by now.
One day he made it snow inside our home when he mistook a feather pillowfor a masked intruder. Another day we came home to catch him on top of thewashing machine dancing around on his hind legs.
This summer, he ripped the molding off the door frame during a thunderstormon the apparent theory that lightning can't zap you if you're chewing on ajagged piece of wood with large nails sticking out of it.
When the dog gets us down, we take solace in the "pets" section of theclassifieds. It's like having our own support group.
Nearly every day brings another ad like this one: "Lab, yellow. 1 year old.Loves people. Needs big yard. Free to good home."
We just smile. We know the score.
A good dog is hard to find
The people placing the ad try to make their dog sound like the SecondComing of Lassie, but whom do they think they're fooling? If the dog was sogreat, they wouldn't be dumping him for free.
And those words, "loves people," we know what that's all about. Our dogloves people, too. Real meaning: "Humps dinner guests."
Needs big yard? Speaking from experience, allow me to translate: "Needsstrong tranquilizers."
When it comes to foisting lemon dogs on an unsuspecting public, there is analarming amount of willful misrepresentation out there. After a year of chewedshoes, slobber showers and all-night tail chases, the owners are raising thewhite flag. They're admitting defeat in man's age-old battle to hold dominionover beast. But they don't want you to know that.
Given the deceptive advertisements out there, I feel it is my duty toprovide you, the buying public, with a consumer's guide to choosing theslighly used Man's Best Friend.
I've developed the following glossary of code words to watch out for whenshopping for the second-hand dog. Each term is followed by what you can reallyexpect when you get Rover home.
Truth in advertising
"Spirited" - Completely out of control.
"Unique personality" - Drinks from toilet, flings water from jowls.
"Playful" - A couch shredder.
"Fiercely loyal" - A biter.
"Good watchdog" - An all-night barker.
"Good with kids" - History of swallowing Lego pieces, requiring costlysurgery.
"Man's best friend" - Insists on sleeping between you and your spouse.
"Super affectionate!" - More drool than you could ever imagine.
"Robust" - Will eat you into bankruptcy.
"Needs loving master" - Needs a saint with the patience of Job.
"Has had obedience training" - ... and it didn't do a lick of good.
"Neutered" - ... in a futile attempt at behavior modification.
"One of a kind" - ... and it's a good thing.
"AKC purebred" - All that inbreeding explains a lot.
"Constant companion" - Always under foot.
"Cuddly" - Ninety pounds and thinks he's a lap dog.
"Best offer" - How much do we need to pay you to take this crazy hound?
If all else fails, you might want to play it safe. Forget the dog. Buy agoldfish.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times